Until three years ago. Eastern Architects and Designers Ltd. (EAD) was a highly profitable business with more work than it could comfortably handle. But then the property market collapsed and, like many architectural firms, EAD found itself struggling to survive.
EAD boss, Barry Jones, had always been on excellent terms with the architects who worked for him. A close-knit group, everyone at EAD got on well with everyone else. They worked hard in the office — and socialised a great deal after work. However, Barry was beginning to wonder how long the friendly could last. Losses for tow years running meant EAD could no longer afford to keep everyone on — there simply wasn't enough work to go round. He had to get rid of some of his staff to survive. The question was which of his architects should be made redundant? And how could he say to them, "Thanks very much, but goodbye"? Barry thought about the problem and identified four possible approaches to reaching a fair decision:
1. Last in — first out (LIFO): those architects with the shortest periods of service in the company should go first.
2. Voluntary redundancy: a generous severance package would be offered to anyone willing to take early retirement.
3. Selection on merit: Barry would decide which employees were least useful to the company and make them redundant.
4. Peer selection: the employees would meet to decide which of them should leave.
II. Role-play: Meeting
Work in groups of between three and five. One of you plays the role of Barry Jones, chairing the meeting to discuss which of the four approaches should be chosen. Each of the other group members plays the role of one of the architects described in the role cards.
Discuss which role each person will play and prepare carefully for the meeting by reading the role card and thinking about your situation. Barry Jones should read all the other group members' role cards.
Role-cards for EAD meeting
Pat (aged 45)
You have been with the firm 20 years, and have won many awards for outstanding design. You spend most of your spare time flying aeroplanes ¾ an expensive hobby. You have been married three times and have four young children to support. You are particularly friendly with Murto/Maria.
Don/Donna (aged 26)
You joined the firm three years ago You have just bought a large new house since you're getting married soon. You are a brilliant young architect and have just submitted plans for a major building project on the River Thames. You will know soon whether your plans have been accepted by the local council. You quite like the peer selection approach to the redundancy problem in the firm.
Felix/Felicity (aged 55)
Unmarried, you are well-connected socially. You went to the right school and know all the right people. You are fairly talented and very popular. You are a sociable, extrovert person, liked and trusted by the financial experts in the City. You spend most of your time having lunches with well-known business people. You love working for EAD and do not intend to retire. You believe there is no substitute for experience in your profession.
Simon/Simone (aged 35)
You are the life and soul of the firm — full of energy and ideas. However, you have a weakness. You are a big spender and always heavily in debt. You live life 'in the fast lane', as they say. If you are made redundant, you will face financial ruin. You like Felix/Felicity, whom you consider to be the best architect in the firm. In the present situation, you believe selection by merit is best for the company.
I. Use your notes from Listening to write the minutes of the meeting between Frank, Derek, Jordan and Jennifer Walton.
II. Think over the difference in holding an international meeting abroad and in Russia. Analyse peculiarities of Russian meetings and introduce the list of hot tips on how to avoid or at least to minimize negative experience while holding an international meeting in Russia.